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Arts and Entertainment

Weekend Movie Guide: Best Horror Film of the Year?

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The list is a little long this week since I'm including the Christmas Day openers. Having already raved about There Will Be Blood yesterday, I'll lead off with what some are calling the best horror film of the year, The Orphanage. For any horror fan who's tired of torture porn and bad Japanese re-makes, this is the movie for you. Grim and spare, it's a horror film for adults and Spain's foreign-language entrant for next year's Oscars.

There's always talk about the poor state of race relations in this country, but I think it's significant that the two biggest movie stars in America right now are Will Smith and Denzel Washington. I find Smith to be milquetoast, but Denzel is a real powerhouse. He stars in and directs The Great Debaters. I'm a little wary of the strong Karate Kid element to the story--small-town kids challenge Harvard Cobra Kai debate team--but I trust Denzel.

My enthusiasm for John Sayles has waned a bit since he gave us the magnificent Lone Star. Don't get me wrong--I still enjoy his work, but I no longer race to the theater to see his latest. Honeydripper may change that, though, as I'm a sucker for rollicking, down-on-your-luck period pieces (it's not like there are very many, you know). Throw in old lions like Danny Glover, Charles Dutton and Stacy Keach and I may be hooked.

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What's been a great year for animated films concludes with one of the most unusual and beautiful. Based on the series of graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis tells the true story of a young Iranian girl coming of age during the Islamic Revolution. With the assistance of Vincent Paronnaud, Satrapi has adapted her own work to the screen. The result is one of the most visually arresting films of the year.

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep isn't exactly my kind of movie (not enough violence, language or nudity), but reviews have been unusually strong so this might be a good one for kids. I'm assuming it's just another iteration of the Loch Ness monster legend (that's the vibe I'm getting for the previews at least). If you want to see my kind of movie based on the Loch Ness legend then rent the hilarious Incident at Loch Ness

It's a shame that more couldn't be done with what I once thought sounded like a cool concept: Alien versus Predator. The involvement of Paul W.S. Anderson on the first film was a grim omen and things don't appear to have improved with the sequel, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. I'm a little interested in seeing the VFX work of the Strause Brothers, but not interested enough to see it in a movie theater.

It pains me to put The Bucket List on the bottom of this list. Having watched Chinatown three times in the last few weeks, I can't believe that Jack Nicholson is doing this sort of life-affirming crap now. Where's the long-promised third installment in the J.J. Gittes series, Jack? The Two Jakes wasn't that bad. What else has Robert Towne got going? Shit, cast Morgan Freeman in it and I'm sure someone will come up with the financing!

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Tickets & Showtimes

The Orphanage
The Great Debaters
Honeydripper
Persepolis
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
The Bucket List

Reviews

The Orphanage
The Great Debaters
Honeydripper
Persepolis
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
The Bucket List

Previews

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The Orphanage

The Great Debaters

Honeydripper

Persepolis

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep

Support for LAist comes from

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

The Bucket List

Photo courtesy of Picturehouse Entertainment and Sony Pictures Classics